Seasoned campaigner in evergreen form

Champagne To Go (Nathan Moscrop) leads Shepherd's Bight (Brian Hughes) in the Belhaven Brewery Handicap Hurdle Race at Kelso (picture by Alan Raeburn).
Champagne To Go (Nathan Moscrop) leads Shepherd's Bight (Brian Hughes) in the Belhaven Brewery Handicap Hurdle Race at Kelso (picture by Alan Raeburn).

Oak Vintage was an impressive winner of the feature race at Kelso’s penultimate meeting of the spring last week.

Making all for last season’s leading northern conditional pilot, Ross Chapman, the 3/1 chance jumped like a buck on his way to landing the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase by 11 lengths from Ifandbutwhynot.

The eight-year-old is trained near Hexham by Ann Hamilton and her husband Ian, also the horse’s owner, said: “He struggled here on heavy ground but he showed by winning so well at Sedgefield that he loves fast ground.

“That might be him for the time being, although he is a whizzy little horse and you could see him going round Cartmel in the summer.

“Ross said he didn’t give him the same feel as Sedgefield, so be may be telling us that’s him for now.”

Owner Suzie Wood, whose late father Col David Greig landed the 1982 Scottish National with Cockle Strand, saw her same colours successful in the Belhaven Brewery Handicap Hurdle with Brian Hughes-ridden Shepherd’s Bight.

Two-time former champion Irish apprentice Connor King rode his first winner over jumps when steering home High Jinx for Tim Easterby in the Principle & Prosper Novices’ Hurdle.

The 21-year-old said: “I’ve had 65 rides over jumps, most of which were last season, when the closest I got was finishing second. I thought I would give it a try in the UK from 2016-17 and I’m based in Malton with Mr Easterby, John Quinn and Brian Ellison.”

In a nice twist of coincidence, Easterby was represented by David Dutton, the jockey on board Cockle Strand on his date with destiny at Ayr 36 years ago.

The final race day of the season at Kelso takes place on Sunday. May 27 – Ladies Day.